A sprinkling earlier in the day left the field damp and the skies were threatening at Riverside Academy’s practice on Monday to open drills for the 2018 season.
The practice field conditions seemed almost pristine compared to what the Rebels faced a year ago.
“Last fall, it was super muddy. It rained all last fall. We slopped around in the mud the whole time,” Kevin Dizer recalled. “Regardless of the weather conditions, we have to get out here and get it done. We are not blessed with turf, but we will make do with what have always.”
Weather field conditions mirror those of last year remains to be seen but things have certainly changed in that span for Dizer.
Dizer is Riverside’s third head coach in three years. A year ago, he was serving as Riverside’s secondary and special teams coach. Things also have changed a lot for Dizer since the spring when he was elevated to head coach.
“I finally got the staffed positioned where I can free myself up some and I can be the head coach,” Dizer said. “The whole time in the spring, I was still full time coaching the secondary and special teams. Now we have a coach in Brandon Mancuso who is doing both of those so I’m pretty free to move around and put my hands on some of everything, so that’s been a lot different for me.
“I had never been a head coach and in the spring, I didn’t know where my eyes should be, and I still had the whole secondary by myself. I was a little uncomfortable this spring. Now I’m finally getting in a position where I’m more comfortable in knowing exactly where my eyes need to be and know what’s going on on offense and what’s going on on defense and can watch the kids all over the field and be able to put myself wherever I need to be.”
Featuring a young football team, the first-year coach said his Rebels need a lot of work.
“Right now, we just have to get as many reps as we can. We have some good, young talent. It’s just a matter of getting them football reps. They don’t have a lot of game experience. We’ve got a lot to cover in a short amount of time but that’s what we’ve got to do,” Dizer said.
Along with being young, the squad’s numbers are down compared to past years so just how physical the Rebels can be during practice is likely to be a work in progress, according to Dizer.
“As a coach, you certainly want to have physical practices, but I’ve got to figure out what that fine line is going to be with this team and how much is too much. That’s something we are going to have to play wait and see. We are going to be physical, but we don’t know how long we can sustain that. It might be for 10 plays a day. It might be for 20-25 plays a day that we can really strap it on. We will just have to see what’s best for this team,” the Riverside coach said.
The Rebels will practice daily through next week before hosting Ellender in a scrimmage set for 6 p.m. August 17. Riverside will take on South Lafourche the following week in the Thibodaux Jamboree.
“I just can’t wait to see us against somebody else. We didn’t have a spring game. I’m not sure how we will look against somebody else, but I think we will be just fine,” said Dizer.